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East Coast featured boats: Deben Cherubs celebrate 100 years!

As they celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2024, our featured boats for May are the Deben Cherub fleet. Everson’s Yard on the River Deben, Suffolk, now Woodbridge Boatyard produced one of the first series production yachts on the English East Coast, the 21ft. ‘Cherub’ Class. 17 were built between 1924 and 1937, many are still afloat and racing. Join us on the River Deben for Bank Holiday weekend to celebrate this great milestone!

In 2023 several Cherubs raced in the Suffolk Yacht Harbour Regatta, taking these diminutive boats down to the River Orwell in somewhat stormy conditions: ’Cherub’, ‘Lindy Lou’, ‘Jubilee’ (CC14 but using a suit of sails from CC17 ‘Dunlin’) and ‘Lynette’. The fleet is signed up for the SYH Regatta again in 2024.

‘Cherub’ CC2 The original Deben Cherub, designed by and built for Mr. A.R.J. Curjel in 1924. In the 1990s she was found abandoned in the saltings near Aldeburgh but rescued and restored by Bruce Miller. She is now owned by Sebastian Watt and based out of Woodbridge Boatyard, well-loved and regularly used.

‘Sea Nymph’ CC3 ‘Sea Nymph’ was built in 1924 for Capt. Pit Miller as ‘Etonia’. In the 1970s she was taken to the Netherlands where she was very active on the OGA circuit. She is currently being worked upon in the Netherlands and her owners plan to join us for the OGA Rally in May 2024 (with or without her).

‘Sea Pig’ CC4 Originally built at Everson & Sons in 1930, ‘Sea Pig’ is one of the few boats to have entered all the OGA East Coast Races since 1963 until the late 1990s. She was winner of the ‘Cup for Trying’ in 1967 and the pedal prize in 1968 when she led the outgoing fleet for some time. In earlier races she sailed under the number CC19 but in 1964 when sailed to the Deben it was discovered that only 17 Cherubs had been built and ‘Sea Pig’ was actually CC4. An extra suit of sails had been cut, but no hull built. In the summer of 1939, when owned by Surgeon Commander Curjel of Woodbridge, brother to the designer of the Cherub class, A.R.J. Curjel (owner of ‘Cherub’) she cruised to Portsmouth but on her return was caught by the onset of war and laid up at Dover where she was damaged by enemy shells. Refitted after the war and bought by Mr. Titheridge in 1948, she was sailed extensively in home waters during pub closing hours and occasionally as far as the Isle of Wight. She was lying in Heybridge Basin for several years, in need of someone to complete her restoration and in 2017 she was taken on by Thomas Morley and moved to Devon. Sadly, he had to stop work on her and she is now owned by Woodbridge Boatyard who are seeking a new owner to continue her restoration.

‘Rohaise’ CC5 ‘Rohaise II’ was commissioned by R.W. Shipman and is still owned by his son David with only a short spell of her life spent out of the family’s ownership. ‘Rohaise II’ is currently at Larkman’s Boatyard in Melton having some work done but will hopefully be sailing in the OGA Deben Rally in May.

‘Lindy Lou’ CC6 The sixth of 17 Deben Cherubs, ‘Lindy Lou’, was built at Everson & Sons in 1931 and has spent her long sailing life around the East Coast. Spending some years called ‘Fortuna’ before returning to her original name in 2020, she is based out of Woodbridge Boatyard, well-loved and regularly used.  In 2020 ‘Lindy Lou’ was restored at The Woodbridge Boatyard (formerly Everson & Sons) where she had been built nearly 90 years previously. Her hull was stripped back to bare wood, several planks were replaced or splined in larch, her deck was replaced in Robbins Elite ply sheaved in glass atop several new deck beams. She received new cabin sides and coaming in iroko, new oak stem, refurbished spars and new rubbing strakes and toe rails. Whilst carrying out the restoration a new auxiliary propulsion system was installed, converting her from outboard drive to inboard with a 12hp Dolphin petrol engine coupled to all new running gear. ‘Lindy Lou’ was finished with new Epifanes brightwork, signwriting and a custom boom tent. 

‘Lufra’ CC7 ‘Lufra’ was built in 1931 for a Mr. Sullivan and was run for some years as a hire boat by Fred Upson becoming the first taste of sailing for many locals. These days she is in the Isles of Scilly and has recently been restored by her current owner.

‘Charity’ CC8 ‘Charity’ started life in 1932 as ‘Snark’, built for a Mr. Crockett. According to our records she spent part of her life at Suffolk Yacht Harbour. She was owned by Chaloner Chute during whose time she was in fine order and sailed from Chichester Harbour, being quite active within the OGA. Chaloner tracked her down on the Thames 15 years after having sold her and organised her recovery back to Woodbridge. She now stands under cover in the yard’s ownership, seeking a new custodian to take on the project of restoring her. The gallery of photos were taken in Chaloner’s ownership and alongside the tug ‘Oxford’ when she was brought down from Pangbourne to Reading to be lifted ashore.

‘Agility CC9 Built in 1932 for a Mr. Gallop ‘Agility’ is rumoured to have spent part of her life in Torquay. Her current condition and location are unknown.

Curlew’ CC10 Built in 1932 for Mr. Welford. She is currently on the hard in Lowestoft near to the Excelsior Trust.

‘Ariel’ CC11 Originally built as ‘Annette’ in 1934 for a Mr. Gibbons, on 25 October, 2019, Deben Cherub ‘Ariel’ was relaunched at The Woodbridge Boatyard, Everson’s Wharf. The current owner is Tim Everson, great-grandson of The Woodbridge Boatyard’s founder, Alfred A Everson and the restoration was carried out at Woodbridge Boatyard. The following year she received the Classic Boat Restoration Award (under 40′).

‘Sea Swallow’ CC12 Built 1934 for Dr. C. T. East.

‘Jubilee’ CC14 ‘Jubilee’ was built in 1935, the year of the King’s Silver Jubilee, for Rev. D. Symon. She was owned and sailed by Brian Green for 35 years until his passing in 2019. At this time she was purchased by Woodbridge Boatyard where she is regularly sailed by the team and was shown at Southampton International Boat Show in 2022. She sails under the borrowed number of CC17 (‘Dunlin’) but that doesn’t stop her own number remaining CC14.

‘Windsong’ CC15 Originally ‘Ceres’ and built in 1936 she was last heard from in 2019 when she was in a barn near Dundee. Unfortunately, we have lost contact with her since and would greatly appreciate any help in making contact again.

‘Wild Rose’ CC16 Built 1936 for Capt. Pitt Miller

‘Dunlin’ CC17 Built 1936 as ‘Violet Mary’, she is the only Cherub known to have been destroyed.

‘Lynette’ CC18 ‘Lynette’ is the last Deben Cherub built (1937) and unique for her short cabin and extended cockpit as her original owner liked to fish from her. She spent a considerable amount of time in Cornwall and is now based out of Woodbridge Boatyard, well-loved and regularly used.

Find out more about the Woodbridge Boatyard here.

Words and research: Matt Lis, Woodbridge Boatyard